Scores on the doors: Paul Dasher Bamford 0 Marc Jouannet 1 Edwin The Fortunate 1 Mick Renshaw 0 Ian The Draw Tiger 1/2 Dave Mallinson 1/2 Keith The Draw Lion 1/2 Tom RObson 1/2 Geoff The Draw Not 0 David Styles 1 ECC 2 Macc C 3 Early on we looked in a tight spot. Paul was doing okay on board 1 , as was I on board 2, with Ian and Keith looking slightly down on boards 3 and 4 with Geoff even on board 5, it looked like a draw was probably.
On Paul's board... I succumbed to the "Sniper - Botvinnik variation" - yes, that old chestnut. My opponent had used 4 minutes on the clock and I had used an hour! He knew the system well and has studied videos etc on it but told me afterwards that I was actually coming up with a fairly main line defence and was in with a shout, before I made a mistake.....
After Paul succombed and with Geoff following shorlty after the outlook looked bleak, and there might be a possible whitewash on the cards. However Ian rallied to get in a drawing position and Keith grabbed a knight with ease taking a leading position and with me in the ascendancy we might get something. I arrived late and was 5 mins down, not to worry I thought, then I saw my opponents - grade 128. Oh dear, I decided to play as tight as I could, defend and try to not make any mistakes. I played my current favoured "The Queens Sardines Gambit", where I start with a Queens Gambit then simply put as many pieces as I can into the square marked c1, c4, f1, f4. This has been working well this season. The game plodded on in a very dour manner, with my opponent adopting a Kings Indian Defence and slowly the game unfolded with the words of Mithrandir playing in my head at the exit of Moria, "Though shalt not pass!". I avoided any exchange of pieces keeping my pawn line intact and finally succumbed as my opponent swapped white bishops on move 12. By this time my knights had moved hobbit-like across to the right of the board and with little option to move his pieces, I sensed a building momentum. I raised my key and started to roll back the lid on my sardine tin (Farewell Tolkein, back to the tinned fish metaphor), exposing both my king and his king, but to my advantage I could quickly draft in support with my queen, rooks and remaining bishop. Things were looking good. He was on the toast ready to go under the grill, when in a move the Marquis De Laissez-Faire would have been proud of I gave my queen away. Damn! I was down, 2 rooks and a knight versus queen, rook and knight and equal pawns. I was surely done for! I played on hoping my position was strong enough and I might get a lucky fork to grab his queen. His prowess came to the fore and before long he had pinned my knight and was in a simple winning position. All I had left was subterfuge, I played my rook along the back row to the h file, it was checkmate if I had 2 consecutive moves, oh for such luxury! However, it worked, it diverted his attention, and instead of swiping my knight and rolling on to a comfortable win, he pushed his pawn to give him a way out of the check mate (that would never have been if he simply took my knight). I couldn't believe it, I had a chance, I pushed the rook to check, his king had only one move and there was now a serious danger he would either lose his bishop or queen and we could be level on points, but with me in a commanding position. He moved his king to the back row and I saw my chance, another shrewd check avoiding the obvious swap meant it was mate in one or two moves. My sardines on toast were done!
So I somehow managed to win and with Ian forcing/agreeing a draw for the team , the hope was Keith could press home his advantage and salvage a draw for the C team. In a tense finish and down on time, Keith managed a hard fought draw. Alas a 2-3 loss to Macc C